Home & Family
Is you Child Sleepover-Ready?
6/3/2013 12:40:19 PM

"Sleepovers with friends can be a lot of fun for kids. Laughing, staying up late, talking about school or their social circle—these are all good things. Unfortunately, the atmosphere can change when it’s time to go to bed and many children may find themselves staring at a strange ceiling and missing home,” said Scott Riviere, MS, LPC, RPT-S, founder of K.I.D.Z. Inc. in Lake Charles. "Your best bet is to make sure your child is prepared.”

There is no magic age that determines when someone is ready for their first overnight trip to a friend’s house, according to Riviere. One family might have an eager six-year-old with packed bags, ready to go, while another might have an apprehensive eleven-year-old who’s excited, but anxious. It’s often left to the parents’ best judgment, but rest assured that sleepovers are healthy and normal, assuming—of course—that you know your child will be in good hands.

"Some parents are so nervous about sleepovers that they don’t allow them at all, or they get so anxious about it that they project that anxiety onto their children. Although it’s certainly expected to feel protective of your children, you shouldn’t let those insecurities prevent you from allowing your child to have safe and healthy experiences. That includes having a sleepover with friends,” Riviere said.

If your child simply isn’t ready—emotionally or mentally—then you shouldn’t force them into a sleepover kicking and screaming. But if they want to stay over with a friend and you’re the one having trouble letting go, you may want to consider releasing some of that anxiety. "One thing you don’t want to do is show your child how anxious and worried you are. That will just make them anxious and worried,” Riviere said. "Although it makes sense to be on-edge when your child stays away for the first time, keep in mind that there’s nothing fantastic or unusual about it. It’s good for children to be sociable and have independent experiences. It helps them become independent adults, especially if they test their comfort levels and learn how to adapt.”

The best way to relieve some of the anxiety is to know the family who will be hosting your child for the night. Consider arranging some playdates in advance that don’t involve sleeping over, just to see how everyone does.

Once you know that your child will be staying at the home of a responsible family, there are some things you can do to set the course for a stress-free sleepover, according to Riviere.

· Make sure they have everything they need. Pajamas, pillow, sleeping bag (if needed), a change of clothes (including extra undies) and personal hygiene items, like a toothbrush, toothpaste and comb.

· Ask if they want to take a favorite stuffed animal or toy with them.

· Ask if they want to arrange a time for you to call and say goodnight. For younger children, this can provide added comfort.

· Does your child have any allergies? If so, don’t forget to talk to the parents about it. Same goes for any prescription medication that they may have to take while they’re there.

· Make sure your child, and the other family, understands that they can call you any time if the experience proves to be too much. "Most parents wouldn’t want their children crying all night long without getting a phone call. Sometimes just a two-minute conversation can make the child feel better,” Riviere said. "Plus, it’s good for children to know that they can turn to their parents any time they’re afraid.”

· If your child isn’t sleepover-ready for some reason, whether personal or medical, consider inviting some friends over to your house instead.

For help with any parenting issue, call KIDZ, INC. at (337) 497-1002.

Posted by: Erin Kelly | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Home  |  Parenting

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